The Winds of Change

March 30, 2008 - The Winds of Change (Martha Grimes). "Who would shoot a child in the back?" That's the question asked by a police pathologist following the discovery of a little girl's body in London. And, that's the question that Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury sets out to answer in this installment in the series from Martha Grimes.

The story takes place in March 1996, about two months after the events of the previous book, The Grave Maurice. Jury learns that the area where the girl's body was discovered is near a house that's reputed to be frequented by pedophiles. One of these suspected perverts is a powerful businessman named Viktor Baumann. As it happens, his daughter, Flora, disappeared two years ago. She had been living in Cornwall with her mother, Mary, and stepfather, Declan Scott. Mary died six months later, but Scott still lives at Angel Gate, his family's estate.

About the same time the little girl (who is not Flora) was found shot in London, a woman was found shot to death in one of the gardens at Angel Gate. The woman was previously spotted twice in the company of Mary Scott, but no one knows who she is. Jury has been called in on the case by local police commander Brian Macalvie, who has not been able to solve Flora's disappearance. Jury calls on his titled friend, Melrose Plant, to pose as a gardener at Angel Gate and dig up some inside dirt.

As the action progresses, Jury realizes that there's a lot of game-playing going on around him. In order to solve both cases, he has to learn the rules of these games and then break them. In the end, a child teaches him what he needs to know.

The Winds of Change is another example of Grimes' ear for dialogue. The conversations are pithy and witty at the same time. The prose is also filled with references to flowers and color, fitting for a story that's set largely in a garden where winter is changing in to spring. The effect is that the overwhelming grayness and melancholy present in The Grave Maurice has started to lift.